Jane is an occupational therapist in Jackson, Mississippi, and the poetry editor at Medmic.

This poem originally appeared in Empty House Press.

Back to by healthcare workers


Down here,

winter rains and summer storms swell

the clay called Loess, swirl

of sediment and skeletal dust

blown by winds across eons, from far

continents. It settles and shifts,

and the whole house tilts on its slab,

and dry skies draw it back. Gaps

at corner walls and jambs mark the seasons.

It takes a case of caulking to seal the cracks,

paint to hide the fix.

One summer,

my father stood at an outside wall,

hefted his weight on a post-hole digger,

pierced the sod and pulled up sticky soil,

copper-colored, and deeper,

veins of bruised blue. In a wheelbarrow

he mixed concrete with a shovel,

plugged each hole to halt the stubborn

tug of earth. Still,

doors open and shut on their own accord.

Pictures hung on walls lean

into the slant. The slow heave

and sigh of loam mock our attempts

to line and level. Our bodies recalibrate

the angle. The tilt

calls water from a toppled glass,

draws it down

to the darkest corners. It flows fast,

unafraid to follow.

Jane is the poetry editor at Medmic. Her poems have appeared in Empty House Press, The Shore, The Night Heron Barks, Intima, and others. She is an occupational therapist in Jackson, Mississippi. Find her on IG: Jane E Newkirk (@janenewkirk_writer)

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